Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

confusing mesh of identity thoughts


me+coffee in a fiestaware mug=love

This will be in the identity post series, although I warn you, it’s going to be a rambling kind of post.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, but those thoughts aren’t exactly the most organized.

My previous identity post discussed how we label ourselves: “I’m an eating disorder patient.”  “I’m a cardiac patient.”  In fact, here are my exact words:

“I originally thought, when I got my cardiac diagnosis, “I am now a cardiac patient forever.”  That was pretty depressing for awhile.  But no.  I have to take certain precautions to keep me healthy, but I do not have to succumb to the idea that ARVD is who I am.”

But you want to know what?  I did fall back on calling myself a cardiac patient.  Maybe I didn’t walk around declaring it to people, but inside, I was still feeling that way, and it was a feeling based on fear.  I couldn’t let go of all the things that could go wrong, that could happen, that I was restricting activities and fearing what my heart would do to me next.

There’s still some fear there.  But I met this girl at the hospital who had every “right” to identify herself by her loss and by the eating disorder and to live in fear of both.  And she didn’t.  I’m sure there was a time when she did, and I’m sure she still grieved what she lost.  But there was joy and thanks and this ability to find life in each moment.  And I looked up to that and admired that, and it made me realize how much more work I need to do to stop living in fear of my own heart.  And I realize this isn’t going to happen overnight.  But just the thought, “I don’t need to fear my own self” is a very freeing thought.

Okay, so sort of on an unrelated subject, but not.  I promise you the two ideas will connect once I get there.

So I grew up this super star athlete, winning all star awards in my sports and going on to compete in two Varsity sports in college, becoming my college’s first freshman two-time All American.  After college, I continued to run, I had started studying yoga when I was 18, and eventually started teaching yoga.  Yes, the running got tied into the eating disorder.  But I did a lot of work–including forcing myself to take a full year off of all exercise–to break that tie.  And I learned to run and enjoy being outside and I felt strong and I started doing road races (I am not a distance runner, but I found the company and the vibe to be amazing).  I didn’t train, other than to do one long run a week.  Other than that, I just ran.  And if I got dressed and went outside and hated the weather, sometimes I ran and sometimes I walked back inside and didn’t run.

Enter the cardiac diagnosis that took that away from me.  Yes.  I am angry that I can’t run.  But I am also angry because my body seems to be doing things that are beyond my control.  The weight gain is one of them.  The distribution of that weight is another.

I don’t think I’m a different person now that I weight XX pounds more than I did before.  What’s different is that I used to be the one in charge of my body.  It was my choice if I worked out.  It was my choice if I ran or lifted or did yoga.  I could control my fitness level.  And to a great degree, now I can’t.  And I was reading a book last night for school and this thought came to me:

I can’t fix my heart, so at least I should be able to fix my body.

yeah, well, the first half of that sentence is true.  The second half is partly true.  There isn’t a whole lot I can do to change my body right now.  There are things going on medically that my treatment team are confused about and can’t figure out.

There is also a major flaw in my realization, the idea of “fixing” my body.  Aside from the heart problem and some lingering, minor health stuff from the eating disorder, my body doesn’t need “fixing.”  I know this.  What’s behind it is that fear that I now have lost any say in how my body reacts to just about anything.

This lack of control has shaken me.  I am doing all the “right” things and the opposite of what should be happening is happening.  The fear of losing control is different than that feeling of losing control that I would always have when in treatment and gaining weight and eating their meal plan.  That was fear of losing my eating disorder.  So there’s got to be some other, deeper fear in here.  I just don’t know what it is.  Yet.

So I’m not a “cardiac patient” who fears her body.  Yet I fear that no matter what I do, my body is no longer mine to control.  Because of the fact that I’m a cardiac patient.

Conundrum, no?

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March 20, 2010 - Posted by | Body Image, Eating Disorders, heart, identity | , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Step One: I admitted I was powerless…

    No matter which program, that’s how it starts. I wish we started it that way at church. Then we could get to “there is One who has all power, may you find God now.” Surrender is the most difficult and most humbling process I’ve ever experienced. And it’s daily.

    I love you, Lex.

    Comment by Whitney | March 20, 2010 | Reply


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